On May 4, more than 300 immigrant supporters gathered at Planet Word in Washington, D.C. for Ayuda’s 50th Anniversary Event: Standing With Immigrants (SWI). We were honored to see so many local policymakers, chefs and restaurants, pro bono law firms, and neighbors from every corner of our community on Ayuda’s special night.


Ayuda’s story began in the 1960s, when a small group of George Washington Law Students formed Ayuda Para El Consumidor to assist immigrants with their legal cases. Since then, Ayuda has grown into the only organization in DC, Maryland, and Virginia that provides holistic legal, social, and language access services to low-income immigrants from anywhere in the world.  

Our SWI celebration kicked off with the premiere of a new mini doc showcasing Ayuda’s place in the history books. We were grateful to feature the voices of Carolyn and Filma, two former Ayuda clients, and to hear from several key figures who built the Ayuda of today:  

  • Richard Gutierrez, Executive Director, Ayuda (1973 – 1978) 
  • Larry Schneider, Active Retired Partner, Arnold & Porter, Head of Pro Bono Immigration Practice 
  • Leslye Orloff, Director of Clinica Legal Latina, Ayuda (1985 – 1999) 
  • Stacy Brustin, Founder & Coordinator of Hermanas Unidas, Ayuda (1991 – 1996)  
  • Jean Bruggeman, Director, Community Legal Interpreter Bank, Ayuda (2007 – 2010)  
  • Paula Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Ayuda (2016 – Present)  

We encourage you to watch and share the video! Make sure to grab your tissues


While Ayuda has a lot of impact to celebrate, SWI is also about recognizing those in our community who go above and beyond in pursuit of our mission. Event Host Eugene Daniels, of POLITICO and MSNBC, helped us honor Ayuda’s 2023 Awardees

  • Champion of Justice: U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) 
  • Advocate of Change: Paola Velez, Award-winning Chef, Co-Founder of Bakers Against Racism 
  • Pro Bono Service: Michael J. Woods, Associate General Counsel at Verizon 
  • Pro Bono Impact: McGuireWoods LLC 

“Your work is pivotal to creating more folks that are like me,” Chef Paola Velez emphasized in her acceptance remarks, “More folks that are children of immigrants that will make the world a better place.” 

Ayuda believes that each time we lend a helping hand to our immigrant neighbors, it creates a ripple effect. It strengthens our community. We are so grateful to the awardees above for helping Ayuda turn these ripples into waves. 


The best part of SWI was getting to see so many supporters and friends from throughout Ayuda’s history. We were blown away by the generosity of our presenting sponsor Verizon and other organizational supporters, as well as the kindness of our Board of Directors and Golden Giving Circle.  

In the last 50 years, Ayuda’s supporters have allowed us to uplift over 150,000 immigrants. Together, we can make an even bigger impact over the next 50 years.  

Ayuda’s board of directors is generously matching all gifts up to $16,000 now through May 31. Donate today and DOUBLE your impact.  

Photos by Sara Wight Photography Inc.